In January of 2017, my father asked me if I had heard that a good family friend of ours decided to open a CBD store. I had heard and I mentioned that he should try it for pain. My dad quipped back that I should try it for sleep. Both of us were on highly addictive, dangerous medications at the time.

My father has fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, Cushing’s disease and chronic pain that doctors were having a hard time explaining and treating with anything but a prescription pad. My father didn’t want to take heavy medications for pain, but, (and only those truly in chronic excruciating pain will understand) sometimes, you’ll do anything to get rid of it. In my dad’s case, there was no getting rid of it. It was being controlled, or “managed,” as the doctors liked to call it. Instead of it being a 10 out of a 10, it was maybe reduced to an 8 or 7 out of 10 if we were lucky.

Lucky for all of us who know and love him, my dad is far from a complainer. He’s a total mover and shaker, he likes to work and stay active, he’s always got a positive attitude and is always quick with a joke. He was not the type of person to allow his pain to immobilize him so, instead, he chose medications that allowed him to keep his active lifestyle and he tried not to dwell on the negatives. We talked about possibly trying CBD a few times, and mostly jokingly (which is how most conversations go with my dad). We thought it would be great if there were this all-healing miracle oil but concluded that it was highly unlikely. “Some people say it really changes lives,” I said to him and he responded, half-jokingly, that it was probably mostly in their heads. We joked a lot about CBD and “how could it possibly work?”

“This magic oil from the hemp plant here to solve all of your problems!” my dad pronounced in a radio voice. “Sounds like snake oil,” he said. He was already on Percocets and methadone that he had to boost with copious amounts of ibuprofen, and those were hardly working anymore. How could a plant extract work better than narcotics? This conversation left me thinking, because if this stuff could just help with his pain a little bit, it would be huge for his lifestyle.

Meanwhile, I have a nearly debilitating sleep disorder. I have had it since I was 10 years old. I have had a million and one sleep studies and doctors and specialists and no one has been able to figure out what causes this. I can easily go four to six days without sleeping and have before. So, for lack of a better term, I have (drumroll please) “Chronic Insomnia!”

“Chronic (enter name of pain/disease/disorder here)” is what doctors call something when they have nothing else to call it. Having been on sleep medications since the age of 10, you tend to build up a tolerance to them. This led me to be on a cocktail of Seroquel, Ambien, Kolonopin, Ropineral and Doxepin. There was a point where I felt absolutely hopeless and was taking seven pills all together at night just to get a normal night of sleep. Sleep! Something that just came so easy and naturally to everyone else somehow eluded me. And somehow more than one doctor allowed me to take Seroquel for 10 years without warning me that it causes metabolic syndrome.

The biggest wake-up call for me was when I kept gaining weight despite all of my efforts to lose. I kept becoming more lethargic, more tired, more depressed, less able to do stuff, and the pounds inexplicably kept piling on. I finally got in to see an endocrinologist because I had all of the symptoms of a thyroid disorder and I was desperate to get back to being healthy and full of energy. This endocrinologist was the first doctor ever to look me in the eye and say, “well of course you’re experiencing all of these symptoms. You take Seroquel, which has caused you to develop metabolic syndrome and, yes, put your thyroid in decline.” What? All of these doctors over the years kept prescribing me a dangerous medication with zero warnings and now I’m more sick because of it?

I was angry and speechless. At least now, though, I knew I had to get off of Seroquel, which was no easy task. I saw different doctors and tried different medications for months to no avail. All I got out of it was many sleepless nights and more sleep studies proving there is no explanation for my condition. Literally grasping at straws, I asked my friend who had opened the CBD store to just be frank with me. “Does it work? Does it really work? Just tell me the truth,” I said. At this point, I was exhausted and willing to try anything. He gave me some topical cream to give to my dad and some extracts that were to be mixed in water for me. I felt much the same way as my dad did earlier. How can this stuff replace this very powerful and highly addictive medication that I have been on for 10 years? It was worth a try though, right?

My father reported diminished pain with the cream and I couldn’t believe it but, after a couple of weeks, I was off almost all of my medications. My father no longer takes narcotics. He uses an array of CBD products and ibuprofen to manage his pain now. My husband started using it and for the first time in 16 years has been able to stop taking anti-anxiety meds. We became believers and started researching CBD and what it does and actually found a pretty rich history of hemp use in the U.S. It changed our lives so much that we decided to open our own CBD American Shaman store on Fort Eddy Road in Concord.

CBD works so well and on so many different things because it works with a system we already have inside of our bodies called the endocannabinoid system. When cannabinoids like CBD (or Cannabidiol) activate your endocannabinoid system it puts your body into a state of homeostasis so it can heal itself. Your endocannabinoid system regulates everyday stress, anxiety, depression, symptoms from PTSD, your cardiovascular system, joint health, natural sleep, muscle pain, nerve pain, cognition and your immune system. That’s why CBD will work its magic on just about anyone for any condition.